A small shrub with a dense, spreading habit.
Endemic to Hawaii, akia is a hardy plant perfectly suited to our local climates. Grey-green, round leaves overlap in an opposite arrangement. Blooming occurs in the winter and spring. Delicate tubular yellow flowers give way to plump red fruit, all contrasting nicely with the foliage.
It is wind, salt, and drought-tolerant. Akia thrives best with full sun. Enrich periodically with a time-released fertilizer. Prune to encourage robust growth—germination is by seed or vegetative clippings.
In the old days, Hawaiians used akia for medicine and cordage. More famously, as a fish poison. Seeped like an akia teabag in a small tide pool, the fish became stupified and easy to catch. The poison did not transfer to humans or warm-blooded animals who ate the fish. But still, be cautious when working with akia. Today the fruit is used to make lei and for modern medicine.
The dense foliage is excellent for shading out undesirable plants and filling in empty spaces. The county of Hawaii takes advantage of the weed-suppressing nature of akia in landscaping; a hedge of akia surrounds a beautiful koaia. Akia is a low maintenance plant that makes native gardening almost effortless.
- Container plant
- Cultural significance
- Lei flower
- No dangers